LONDON: Chelsea will have to keep the champagne on ice for at least a week as their seemingly inevitable progress towards the Premier League title has been checked by a goalless draw away to Arsenal.
Had Chelsea beaten its London rivals at Ashburton Grove, Jose Mourinho’s men would have travelled to Leicester on Thursday (AEST) knowing victory over the resurgent Foxes would have been enough to secure the Blues’ first English title since 2010.
But a win over Leicester will set Chelsea up to take the Premier League trophy in front of its own fans should it also beat Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge next weekend.
Monday’s fiery clash ended with Arsenal going level on points with second-placed Manchester City, with both clubs 10 points adrift of Chelsea. Both City and the Gunners have five league matches left to play this season.
The way in which Chelsea captain John Terry celebrated the draw suggested the Blues – whose side featured former Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas – had gained far more than a point.
The draw meant Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is still waiting for his first win over Mourinho, the Frenchman now having failed to record a victory in 13 meetings with his Portuguese counterpart.
Chelsea had three penalty appeals turned down and Arsenal one in the first half of a game which saw Mourinho put out a starting XI that contained no recognised strikers following injuries to Diego Costa and Loic Remy, with Didier Drogba not fully fit.
Everton overpowers United in three-goal rout
Earlier, Everton dented Manchester United’s hopes of direct entry into the Champions League with a 3-0 rout at Goodison Park.
Had United won on Merseyside, they would have climbed into second place.
But this defeat, their third in as many league visits to Everton’s home patch, left Louis van Gaal’s side fourth in the table with four matches to play as goals from James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas saw Everton rise to 10th place.
Only the top three teams in the Premier League at the end of the season go straight into the first round of the Champions League, with the side that finishes fourth facing the prospect of a qualifying round.
United are not yet certain of fourth, given they lead Liverpool, who are fifth, by seven points having played a game more than their bitter rivals. – ABC News